HL & HLC Roundup - 2nd March 2013

Highland League and HL Cup round-up
Saturday March 2nd
  Academy grind out another win to extend lead

It wasn't pretty to watch, but Academy succeeded in extending their lead at the top of the Highland League with a 1-0 home win against bottom club Fort William.

Harmsworth regulars have been treated to many scintillating performances so far this season - but this wasn't one of them. Gary Weir's glancing header in the 25th minute was to prove crucial as the Scorries struggled to get a real grip on the game.

This was a much more well-drilled Fort outfit than Wick fans have been accustomed to seeing in recent years. Although the visitors rarely threatened, there were one or two anxious moments for James More - standing in for Michael Gray - and his defenders to deal with.

Nevertheless it was another important victory and another clean sheet - the seventh shut-out in the last nine matches - as Academy stretched their lead to five points over Cove Rangers and Formartine United, both of whom have games in hand.

Nairn County were hoping to make up some ground on the leading pack when they took on Keith at Station Park, but Les Fridge's side had to settle for a 1-1 draw after Conor Gethins missed a stoppage-time penalty.

Cammy Keith put the Maroons in front from the penalty spot four minutes into the second half, only for Gethins to equalise on the hour mark with a superb long-range shot.

The Wee County were handed the chance to secure all three points in the fourth minute of injury time when the referee spotted a handball offence by a Keith defender. But top scorer Gethins struck the resultant spot-kick against the top of the crossbar and so it ended all square.

Deveronvale eased to a 4-0 win against 10-man Lossiemouth at Grant Park.

The damage was done in a frantic opening 15 minutes as Vale raced into a three-goal lead courtesy of Graeme Watt, John Urquhart and Martin Charlesworth before Lossie's Jamie McKinnon was red-carded.

Vale had to wait until eight minutes from full-time before extending their advantage, Craig Morrison scoring from the penalty spot.

Buckie Thistle had to work hard for their 2-1 home win against Rothes. Lewis Mackinnon and Dean Donaldson were the Buckie scorers, with Ruari Watt replying for the Speysiders.

Forres Mechanics were held to a 1-1 draw by Huntly at Mosset Park. Ross Archibald put the Can-Cans ahead on 28 minutes but Huntly's recent signing Michael Hart headed home the equaliser with three minutes to go.

Strathspey Thistle were reduced to nine men as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Fraserburgh at Bellslea Park.

The Grantown Jags took a fifth-minute lead through Alan Mackenzie but the whole complexion of the game changed in an incident-packed nine minutes just after the hour mark. Ryan Christie netted two penalties for the home side either side of a goal from Peter Alexander Bruce, while Strathspey pair Mateusz Bobrowski and Nicholas Mochan were both given their marching orders.

Willie West put the outcome beyond any doubt when he scored Fraserburgh's fourth with a quarter of an hour to go.

A headed goal by Martin MacLean early in the second half was enough to give Brora Rangers a 1-0 victory over Inverurie Locos at Harlaw Park.

The Breedon Aggregates Highland League Cup got under way with Clachnacuddin and Formartine coming through their respective preliminary-round ties with narrow victories.

Clach staged a rousing comeback to beat Cove 3-2 at Grant Street Park.

The Lilywhites looked to be heading for an early exit from the competition as goals from Connor Scully and Jamie Beagrie put the visitors two up inside the opening eight minutes.

However, Scott Graham reduced the deficit with a free kick just before the break and Sean Ellis levelled things up with a 25-yard strike five minutes into the second half. Five minutes after that, Gordon Morrison got on the end of a cross to head home the winner.

Formartine progressed with a 2-1 win at Turriff. After a goalless first half, substitute Daniel Park made the breakthrough for Formartine and Neil McVitie added a second before Stephen Gauld pulled one back late on.